5 ways to breeze through a half-marathon

20 April 2017 by
First published: 18 March 2016

Spring is here, which can only mean one thing for runners – it’s half-marathon or marathon time. So whether you’re in training for your first or your fiftieth half-marathon (that’s 13.1 miles) or considering one later on this year, we’ve pulled together 5 ways to help you breeze through a half marathon.

Have a consistent plan

A half-marathon is no easy task, so don’t be complacent when it comes to training. Treat your training plan like you would any other project and plan in your runs on a weekly basis to keep it consistent. It’s better to run for a shorter time three times a week than skip two weeks and make up for it by pushing your body to go on a long run at the weekend. Grab your diary or phone and think realistically when you can run, then make an appointment.

Pace yourself

Get used to pacing yourself during your training runs, as this will help come race day. Aim for three runs a week – two shorter runs consisting of a faster paced one during the week, some tempo training and a longer slower-paced one at the weekend. And whatever you do, build it up slowly. There’s absolutely no point in going ‘hell for leather’ on your first run and trying to do 13.1 miles in one go. You may end up hurting yourself or be put off the distance. The rule is to increase your distance gradually, adding perhaps 10 per cent to your training runs every week so your body gets used to it. Again use this time to find a pace that you’re comfortable at sustaining, so you’re confident and know what to expect come race day.

Kit yourself out correctly

If you’re going to be running for at least an hour and a half non-stop, it’s important to ensure you have the right kit. This includes shoes that fit correctly and are suitable for your gait. Go up at least half a size to save your toenails, because your feet can swell during long-distance runs. Choose clothing that is lightweight and wicks up the sweat. Also pay attention to seams, as there’s nothing worse than chafing halfway through a race. Treat yourself to a sports bra that holds you firmly in place, and you may want to consider compression socks (or air flight socks) to keep the blood circulating and prevent cramp in your calves.

Do a dress rehearsal

There’s nothing worse than feeling unprepared at the starting line. Use one of your runs in the lead-up to the big race as a dress rehearsal. As well as wearing your race day kit, get up at the time you have to leave on the day, make sure you have your kit bag packed and everything you need hydration-wise. Treat the rehearsal run as a time to really test out your race day plan and iron out any worries you may have on the day. The you’ll be in the best place when the gun goes off.

Enjoy your race

You want to go into the race with a positive mental attitude. Don’t get too wound up by nerves and don’t be too rigid with your pacing. It will make you stress if things don’t go to plan. Instead embrace the journey from the start to the finish, smile as you run and take it all in. When you feel good, it makes such a difference. If it helps, write down a mantra on a piece of paper before the big day and stick to it. Remember: running should be an exhilarating sport. Enjoy this time and you’ll breeze through!